This fourth episode of the 2018 Research and Development (R&D) Season of the National Institute of Justice's (NIJ's) Just Science podcast presents an interview with Dr. Shamsi Berry of the University of Mississippi Medical Center, in which she discusses her research linked with the standardizing of a large-scale, whole-body CT image database.
In 2010, the Office of the Medical Investigator for New Mexico was awarded an NIJ grant for conducting high-resolution, whole-body CT scans of autopsied bodies, accompanied by medical examiner determinations of cause of death. Six years later, another NIJ grant was awarded for the creation of a free-access Decedent CT Database from those whole-body CT scans. NIJ envisions that this database of whole-body CT scans will be an invaluable resource to forensic researchers when it is released for use by authorized researchers in late 2018. Dr. Berry's educational background in anthropology and her advanced degree earned at the University of New Mexico influenced her involvement in the project. The University of Mississippi Medical Center became interested in the project because of its interest in biomedical information science. The database currently has 15,249 CT scans, accompanied by information from the medical examiner on cause of death and other autopsy information. There are also efforts underway to include information from each decedent's next of kin regarding the decedent's lifestyle in relation to health conditions. Dr. Berry's particular interest in database use is to increase medical knowledge of the link between a person's body-mass index and health condition and cause of death. She notes that there is no comparable database with whole-body CT scans and accompanying information from medical examiners and decedents' next of kin. It is anticipated that by the end of 2018, the database will be accessible on the Internet to qualified researchers.